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Of Skittles and Media Stupidity

I saw this graphic pop up on several friends’ Facebook feeds this past week.

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It doesn’t seem to matter to any of them that none of this is verifiably true. Trayvon’s school has kept a tight lid on his records, so we don’t know what his GPA was. He was too young to be applying for colleges, and nobody can identify the specific school to which he supposedly had a “full-ride. ” As for his community service and churchgoing, those are conveniently impossible to confirm.

But okay. Let’s presume all this is true. Let’s also presume that George Zimmerman is, in fact, the genocidal racist the media initially told us he is, and that he hunts black kids for sport and gets extra points if they have a hoodie and Skittles.

What would this tell us about the state of the nation?

The answer is that it would say that in this nation, there exists a racist with a gun that committed a murder, and both racism and murder are terrible things. 72 similarly terrible things happened just over the 4th of July weekend in Chicago alone. Odds are, however, that you don’t know anything about the racial makeup of the perpetrators or the victims in those killings. That’s because none of those cases are being held up as emblematic of a return to lynch mob justice the way the Zimmerman trial is.

But why not? Why on earth does this incident in Florida somehow define a collective latent murderous intent on behalf of the entirety of White America? At what point did anyone elect George Zimmerman as America’s creepy a** cracker-in-chief?

I have studiously avoided this trial for a number of reasons, the main one being that it’s the product of manufactured outrage. The only thing it has to say about the nation’s race relations is how eager the media is to portray us as a country of Klansmen, and, in the absence of real racism, how they’re more than happy to make some up.

So NBC airs a tape where Zimmerman sneers that Martin “looks black,” and this kid is gunned down in cold blood because a trigger-happy white dude was on the move. Yet within days, it becomes clear that just about every element of the story is severely skewed. Zimmerman the white dude is actually Hispanic, and NBC doctored the recording to omit that he only mentioned Martin’s race because the 911 operator asked him what it was. Zimmerman sustained serious injuries as a result of his encounter with Trayvon, and from what I can garner from the news reports I haven’t managed to dodge, it looks like the guy’s going to get off, because the evidence points more to self-defense than it does to murder. At least, that’s the opinion of most of the talking heads who seem unwilling to talk about anything else. I have no interest in rearguing the merits of the case, which, as I say, I have not followed closely. I am just parroting the conventional wisdom, which is that it’s likely Zimmerman will walk.

When that happens, we’re told to expect riots. Riots! And for what? For a case that has been woefully misrepresented from day one, surrounding a series of circumstances that don’t speak to national trends other than the hateful influence of an irresponsible media. And as the Middle East burns and Obamacare crumbles and record high unemployment continues to simmer, America turns its lonely eyes to a regional trial being cynically exploited for television ratings generated by an entirely fabricated premise.

If there are riots, NBC ought to be prosecuted for incitement.

The Natural Man Blues
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